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New Caps regime plans to keep Ovechkin at RW (for now)

Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

Alex Ovechkin, Victor Hedman AP

The Washington Capitals seem open-minded about eventually moving Alex Ovechkin back to his original spot at left wing, but for now they’re sticking with former head coach Adam Oates’ decision to keep him on the right side.

That’s what new head coach Barry Trotz and new GM Brian MacLellan shared with the CBC’s Elliotte Friedman in his final 30 Thoughts Column before the 2014-15 season kicks into gear.

Then again, the wording seems like they’re doing so almost with a shoulder shrug more than an emphatic statement.

7. So, is Alex Ovechkin a right-winger or a left-winger? “He’s a right-winger in the defensive zone who can cross-over to the left side offensively,” said Capitals GM Brian MacLellan. “I’ll start him on the right, but we know he can play left,” said coach Barry Trotz. “For sake of simplicity, let’s start that way.”

It will be interesting to see how long Trotz might stick with that plan. Could he shift the 28-year-old back if he doesn’t like what he’s seeing in training camp? Will it be more of a 10 or 20-game audition?

Ultimately, it’s probably more important that Trotz pushes the right button with Ovechkin.

It’s anyone’s call how well that might shake out. Trotz seems to be taking an interesting “tough love + understanding” approach with the star scorer, noting to Friedman that “Players may whine about structure and accountability, but at the end of day they want that.”

Actually, what the Capitals might really want is stability. The franchise seems like it’s been suffering rom a serious identity crisis ever since Jaroslav Halak and then Montreal Canadiens upset them in the 2010 playoffs, so a clear direction might be the most important thing of all.

That said, they could also ask the guy which position he prefers and give Ovechkin a chance to prove that he deserves to stay where he wants. Just a thought, though.

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